“If I’m not there three times a week, I’m on vacation,” he said. “I’d go for coffee and have this strategic position where you can do your job. Here, there’s the Ritz, and there’s the Castiglione. It’s not like in the U.S., where everything is immediately reborn. It’s the end of something. It’s sad, but c’est la vie.”
Marc Auclert, a jewelry designer who has long lived in the neighborhood and has a shop on the Rue de Castiglione, said that this section of the Right Bank is experiencing the same kind of transformation that rattled St.-Germain-des-Prés a generation ago, when the Drugstore Publicis was converted into a Giorgio Armani boutique and restaurant.
“I’m sure whatever they do here will be beautiful, but it will be another world,” he said.
Mr. Auclert described the morning crowd at Le Castiglione as a little social group of soft connections, people who have known one another for years but don’t necessarily need to talk.
“It’s also the best way to learn who’s just arrived at the Ritz,” he said.
Starting Monday, Mr. Auclert and his fellow regulars will have to choose a new morning headquarters. At the moment, there are few contenders — perhaps Da Rosa Jr. or Maisie Café on the Rue du Mont Thabor, or La Coupe d’Or, a more-or-less traditional cafe that runs more on efficiency than ambience.
In the meantime, as the news spread, Mr. Couet said he had been contacted by clients from all over the world who want to buy a lamp, a bar stool or other memorabilia.
For those with a bit of patience, however, Mr. Couet has been quietly cooking up a new project. In January 2020, he bought the Café des Tuileries, on the corner of the Rue de Rivoli and the Rue du 29 Juillet. Like Le Castiglione 30 years ago, the place had seen better days.